One would think it’d be difficult to combine candy and racism, but Donald Trump Jr. found a way!
On Monday, he used the delicious candy Skittles and far less appetizing fear-mongering xenophobia to make a terribly inaccurate point about refugees.
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Comedians make their living discussing their opinions onstage, but one topic has gone largely undiscussed. Nope, not that. Or that.
Let me help you: it’s cargo shorts.
HuffPost Comedy reached out to comedians and comedy writers across the industry to find out which pocket of the cargo short they fall into. (Sorry.)
“Sometimes, when I am walking through a mall, I will see a middle-aged man with a huge belly wearing white sweat socks and cargo shorts and I think, ‘Oh God, he looks awful and I look exactly like him.’
Then I think about other ways I could dress. Should I go Eurotrash? Preppy? Tennis wear? Tom Wolfe white suits and hat? Nothing makes sense. So I have committed to dressing like a 14-year-old boy forever. Cargo shorts are comfortable, adjustable and adorable. Concert T-shirts and T-shirts from my movies are always in style. White socks help me if I get active. Now that I think about it ? my look is classic. It rocks! Who cares if women, children, adults and older people hate it? I feel good and isn’t that all that matters?”
“I’ve got a sweet pair of camo shorts that I plan on wearing to my wedding someday and also funeral … maybe same day.”
A HAIKU TO CARGO SHORTS WEARERS:
hide hairy knees please
you don’t need all those pockets
just get a man purse
“A lot of people are down on cargo shorts, but what else could you wear when you need to carry four to six medium-sized objects while also giving your calves a taste of summer?”
“I can understand why men like to wear cargo shorts. Where else are you supposed to put your fat wallet with all the money you made being a man? Men make so much money they need extra Velcro pockets to fit it all in. Cargo shorts remind us that men used to fight in wars because they’re vaguely reminiscent of army pants and that’s cool AF. I mean, how else am I supposed to know you are a cool guy? When I see a man in cargo shorts, I know he fucked in high school. Like that guy has condoms in his pockets and probably got a DUI when he was 16. But like, a cool DUI, not a regular DUI.”
“If guys keep wearing embarrassing stuff from the ‘90s, we’ll start too … wait …”
“Many upscale golf courses have banned cargo shorts in recent years. But don’t you worry, cargo short dudes, you will always have Dave & Busters.”
“When cargo shorts were cool, women could put all of their things in them and not need purses. Purses give you back problems. Coincidence or strategic play from the patriarchy?”
“I had a friend whose cargo shorts were an extension of his eccentric personality. He wore them every day and used the pockets like a file cabinet: this is the snack pocket; this is the garbage pocket; this is the notes section, with varying bits of paper shoved inside; here’s where I keep my phone, iPad mini, and Nintendo DS. We weighed him once, with and without the shorts. Those shorts, the mini-storage of fashion, tacked on another seven pounds. He walked around with the pockets filled to the brim like a bizarre techie hobo.”
“Six years ago my wife and I were involved in a terrible fight. Things were said. Now, whenever I am in public with her, I wear a pair of cargo shorts. I have three pairs, in varying shades of course. Because revenge is brutal. Revenge is cold. Revenge comes with extra pockets.”
“I love them. I love staring at those big thigh pockets and wondering what’s in there. And, when I shift my gaze to the lower leg and get a peek at an exposed calf ? I can not help but think ? I am so horny right now. This might sound sarcastic, but I really mean it. I love a man in cargo shorts. I hope the man I marry wears cargo shorts all of the time so I can be like, ‘Honey, will you please put my phone, keys, wallet, lip gloss, notepad, cold medicine, toothbrush kit, hand sanitizer, tampons, half a sandwich, random garbage that I haven’t thrown away yet and my kindle in your pockets?’ A kind, practical man wearing cargo shorts = a girlfriend or wife who doesn’t have to carry a hand bag.”
“Cargo shorts are also amazing if you enjoy treasure hunts. You can find so many lost items you forgot you had deep in those pockets. Cargo Short Fact: no one has ever found all of the pockets on a pair of cargo shorts. There’s always more. If you buy yourself a really good pair, there’s pockets in other pockets. Double pockets, they call ‘em. Xzibit designed them during a hiatus from his show ‘Pimp My Ride.’”
“Ah, Cargo shorts, the grandfather to Crocs. I used to think to myself, how and why would a person ever put themselves through the embarrassment that is wearing these shorts? What could you potentially need to carry? Then I realized, people who wear cargo shorts truly DGAF, usually accompanied by a Big Dogs shirt that says something like ‘I’m the Reason The Beer Is Gone.’ Then it dawned on me, are people wearing cargo shorts doing it right? Clearly they aren’t looking to be Instagrammed because who would document that, perhaps they are living in a world that is not validated by social media likes, completely envious of societal, and for that I am envious of the cargo short wearer. But on the other hand I’m terrified of cargo short wearers because I’m worried they carry a copy of the second amendment in their pockets for reference.”
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The police chief of St. Cloud, Minnesota, refused to play along when Fox News hosts tried to get him to extend the blame for Saturday’s knife attack to the local Somali immigrant community.
Chief William Blair Anderson was on “Fox & Friends” on Monday to talk about the attack, which left eight people injured, when cohost Steve Doocy tried to tie the incident to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call for “extreme vetting” of immigrants.
“Do you share his concern about who is coming into the country?” Doocy asked.
In remarks posted online by Media Matters, the chief replied:
“My job is public safety. It’s not immigration policy. I can tell you that the vast majority of all of our citizens, no matter their ethnicity, are fine, hard-working people, and now is not the time for us to be divisive. We already have a very cohesive community, and I expect that this will draw us even closer together. But at the end of the day, our job is public safety, period.”
Cohost Ainsley Earhardt tried to press the issue, claiming “Minnesota leads the nation” in people leaving the country to join terrorists and asking if Anderson receives cooperation from local imams.
“How do you fight this?” Earhardt asked. “Because it’s a mentality that they’re learning, many of them, behind closed doors.”
We actually work very well not just with our East African community, but all of our community. We meet regularly with any number of people, whether they are advocates for a specific ethnicity or different cause. It’s one of things that makes St. Cloud a wonderful place to live, and I know that might sound corny, but it’s the truth. We have established and maintained a very good rapport with our East African community and our community at large.
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Did the HBO series “Veep” help set the stage for Donald Trump’s rise in politics?
Julia Louis-Dreyfus never mentioned the Republican presidential nominee by name during her emotional acceptance speech at Sunday night’s Emmy Awards, but she certainly seemed to have him in mind as she accepted the prize for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
“I’d also like to take this opportunity to personally apologize for the current political climate. I think that ‘Veep’ has torn down the wall between comedy and politics. Our show started out as a political satire, but it now feels more like a sobering documentary. So I certainly do promise to rebuild that wall ? and make Mexico pay for it.”
The speech echoed comments she made earlier this year in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, where she also said her show felt like it had become “a sobering documentary.”
“It’s just so outrageous what’s happening,” Louis-Dreyfus said in the interview, published in April. “Certain candidates say things, and if you were to lift the language and put it into our show, we’d get notes back from HBO saying, ‘It’s too broad, too over-the-top.’”
Trump was a popular target at Sunday night’s awards show, with host Jimmy Kimmel and “Master of None” star Aziz Ansari cracking jokes about the candidate while on stage. In addition, “Transparent” creator Jill Soloway compared Trump to Adolf Hitler in a backstage interview.
The reporter, Alex Thompson, was charged with trespassing and was being held in Houston central jail.
Thompson had entered the Omni Westside Hotel to check with the GOP presidential candidate’s campaign if it had granted him press credentials to cover an event when he was arrested.
Trump’s campaign later said in a statement it was not involved in the incident:
The campaign was not involved in this incident or aware of the details surrounding it. The event organizers were responsible for today’s media presence and requested the campaign limit attendance to the traveling pool. The campaign had no staff presence at check-in for guests or media and therefore has no further knowledge of what occurred.
The arrest was the latest in a series of confrontations between Trump’s campaign and the press. In February, a Secret Service agent slammed a photographer who had left the press pen at a rally to cover a Black Lives Matter protest. Sopan Deb, a CBS News reporter, was also arrested after covering protests in Chicago after a Trump rally was cancelled there.
In March, Corey Lewandowski, then Trump’s campaign manager, grabbed Michelle Fields, now a contributor for The Huffington Post, as she tried to ask the brash businessman a question after a campaign event.
Trump’s campaign also long had a list of organizations, including HuffPost, prohibited from attending campaign events. The campaign recently ended the list.
This article has been updated with a statement from the Trump campaign.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly
political violence and is a <a
style=”font-weight: 400;”>serial liar, <a
style=”font-weight: 400;”>rampant xenophobe,
style=”font-weight: 400;”>misogynist and <a
>birther who has
repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from
entering the U.S.
The media got played by Donald Trump this morning, once again. Picture Charlie Brown lying flat on his back, wondering why he keeps falling for the old kick-the-football bit. That was cable television, after they had carried — live — a full hour of an empty podium (Trump didn’t start on time), then a full-on advertisement for Trump’s new D.C. hotel, then some surrogates saying how wonderful Trump was. At the very end, Trump uttered the 30 seconds of soundbite the cable channels had been waiting for, and then even though it was billed as a press conference, Trump walked off and refused to answer any questions.
Here’s a hint, for the clueless cable networks: if you don’t want to feel cheap and dirty afterwards, then don’t get in bed with Trump again. If you don’t want to hear: “Oh, and there’s some money on the dresser, why don’t you buy something nice for yourself…” then don’t put yourself into that situation in the first place.
Of course, the networks were outraged. They’ll be outraged right up until Trump pulls the exact same trick on them in a few days. Rinse and repeat. Trump did almost exactly the same thing with his Dr. Oz appearance, a few days earlier. First, he was going to release his medical report. Then he wasn’t. Then, he let Dr. Oz have a peek at a one-page summary. The media ate it up with a spoon, breathlessly reporting on each twist and turn. No wonder the Trump campaign isn’t buying many ads — they really don’t have to when they can play the media like a fiddle, week after week.
Perhaps there’s a silver lining to this story. Perhaps this will finally be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. After Matt Lauer’s disastrous performance with Trump and Clinton, the media has gotten noticeably tougher on challenging Trump’s blithe claims and shifting positions. Harder questions are being asked, and non-answers (and outright lies) are being challenged. Nobody wants the scorn that was heaped on Lauer. Well, except for Jimmy Fallon, but he’s a comedian and doesn’t call himself a journalist. The ones that do consider themselves journalists all seem to be coming out of their daze in the past week or so, and waking up to their responsibilities to separate fact from fiction on the campaign trail. So perhaps Trump blatantly playing them this morning will stiffen their spines even further. Hey, anything’s possible, right?
In other news from the campaign trail, Trump once again failed badly in a photo-op event reaching out to African-Americans. No surprise there, really. After being chastised by the pastor who invited Trump to Flint to speak about their water crisis, Trump was on television the next day picking a fight with her. Chalk up another fail on the Trump minority outreach tote board, folks!
In similar news, Donald Trump Jr. insulted Jewish voters by making an offhanded Holocaust joke. Junior also admitted that Dad isn’t going to release his tax returns at all, because then people might say mean things about his finances. A chip off the old block!
Let’s see, what else? Yet another newspaper that routinely (for the past century, in fact) endorses Republican candidates could not bring themselves to endorse Trump. So far, there have been precisely zero major newspapers to back Trump. More papers have endorsed Gary Johnson than have endorsed Trump, in fact. Embarrassing!
Hillary Clinton had a pretty dismal week as well, beginning by not admitting she had been diagnosed with pneumonia last Friday. She then pigeonholed half of Donald Trump supporters into a “basket of deplorables,” and refused to back down (except for the part about “half”). While attending a 9/11 memorial service, Clinton was overcome by the heat and stumbled badly getting into a van. It took her campaign hours to admit she actually was sick, which certainly didn’t do her any good on the transparency front. Also, all week long her poll numbers have been falling.
It isn’t exactly time for Democrats to panic, but Clinton surely does need to turn things around soon. Her best chance will be at the first of the three televised presidential debates, for which she’s been preparing for weeks now. Now, if (hypothetically speaking) Clinton physically collapses on stage during the debate, that would be the time for Democrats to panic, because that might guarantee President Trump. But if Clinton confidently shreds Trump in the first debate, her campaign can get back onto the right track in an instant. To put it another way, there’s a lot riding on this debate, and it will doubtlessly be the most-watched presidential debate of all time.
To review: wages grew more than ever previously recorded. Poverty fell at the steepest rate since L.B.J. was in the White House. According to Gallup, the rate of uninsured Americans was at 18.0 percent in 2013, and it is now down to 9.1 percent. That means the percent of people without health insurance is now half what it was, just before Obamacare started. Half! Obamacare has done precisely what it was designed to do, to put this another way. The job market continues to improve, as it has steadily throughout most of Obama’s term in office (after the bottom was hit during his first year). The wage gap between men and women even slightly improved. Oh, and raising minimum wages means everyone’s wages increase, and this starts from the lowest income levels and moves up — instead of the top-down wage increases that really only benefit the one percent.
All of these facts should be highlighted by Hillary Clinton during the debate, because they all paint exactly the opposite picture as what Trump’s been saying during his entire campaign. Things are getting better out there, mostly because of Obamacare and hiking the minimum wage — two prime issues for a Democrat to campaign on.
President Obama earned at least an Honorable Mention this week, for appearing solo on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton. He was back to his old campaigning form, but the real reason it’s worth a mention here is because an event like this hasn’t happened in almost thirty years. An incumbent president is normally expected to campaign for his party’s nominee, but it hasn’t actually happened since Ronald Reagan did so for George H. W. Bush in 1988. Both times it could have happened since then, it didn’t. The first was in 2000, when Al Gore didn’t want Bill Clinton to campaign for him, because the Monica Lewinsky impeachment scandal was still so fresh. Many pundits later wondered whether Clinton making appearances (say, in urban environments) for Gore could have pushed him over the top. The second time this might have happened, neither John McCain nor any other Republican candidate wanted anything to do with George W. Bush, whose approval ratings had sunk into the 20s. Bush was roughly as popular as Richard Nixon was, just before he resigned, so he didn’t get any invitations to campaign (to say the least). So Obama’s appearance this week really should have been a normal thing for a second-term president to do, but this hasn’t actually happened for a very long time.
But our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award instead goes to five senators, led by Jeff Merkley of Oregon, who are attempting to bring back the public option for health insurance. Merkley was joined by Bernie Sanders, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, and Patty Murray, and soon dozens of other Senate Democrats were flocking to co-sponsor the measure.
They realize they have an uphill climb in front of them. They are really hoping to build support so they can pass a bill in the next Congress, with a new president. These things take time, in other words, but that shouldn’t detract from beginning the effort now. The public option is supported by Hillary Clinton and by millions of Americans, so raising the issue now means it will be talked about during the campaign.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has already succeeded in reducing the uninsured rate of the American public by half — from 18 percent down to 9 percent. Introducing a public option will only make the marketplaces better and more competitive. Now that the two biggest Democratic foes of the public option (Max Baucus and Joe Lieberman) are both gone from the Senate, it is time for the debate to begin anew.
For reintroducing the measure, we have five Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week awards this week, for Senators Jeff Merkley, Bernie Sanders, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, and Patty Murray. If Democrats manage to take back the Senate, we can expect a full-throated debate early next year on the issue. For getting this particular ball rolling, these senators deserve recognition and support, so handing them MIDOTW awards is the least we can do.
[Rather than congratulating the five winners directly, instead we'd encourage you to take a minute to sign the petition supporting a public option for health insurance.]
The obvious choice for Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week this week is none other than Hillary Clinton. While she was resting up, perhaps a fitting punishment would have been to write 100 times on a chalkboard (Bart Simpson-style): “It’s not the crime but the coverup that gets you.”
There was no real “crime” here, of course. Not telling the public and the media that you are sick is not even remotely against the law, even for presidential candidates. And, once again, you can fully sympathize with Clinton’s motivation for keeping a lid on her personal information — there was already a lot of wild and unfounded speculation running around the darker corners of the right-wing echo chamber that she had some deathly disease. Admitting that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia would, obviously, just feed into that whole rumor mill.
Still, the penchant for secrecy when none is really necessary is a definite pattern of behavior for Clinton, and one she would do well to change in the future. Imagine the following scenario, instead of what happened: Clinton publicly announces she’s got pneumonia on the same day she is diagnosed (last Friday), and shows the media a letter from her doctor explaining what she’s got and how she’s treating it. Then she boldly announces that while she will be taking a little time off from normal campaign events, she will make the effort to go to the 9/11 memorial service, since she was so intimately involved in the aftermath (being one of New York’s senators, at the time). She attends the event and then has to leave early for medical reasons. She staggers getting into her vehicle, and is caught on video.
That would be a much more sympathetic scenario than what took place, wouldn’t it? Rising from her sickbed to honor the fallen, but being overcome and having to be helped away. That’s a sympathetic portrait of a dedicated politician. Instead, what we got was a whole lot of unnecessary secrecy and a very bad photo op.
Instead of the story being defused before it happened, it becomes a story about Clinton not being fully transparent and choosing secrecy when it really wasn’t even warranted. That feeds into a negative image of her that plenty of voters already hold.
So for not being upfront with the state of her health while running for president, Hillary Clinton is indeed our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week. Repeat after me: It’s not the crime, it’s the coverup that gets you. It’s not the crime, it’s the coverup that gets you. It’s not the crime, it’s the coverup….
[Hillary Clinton is currently running for office, and it is our standing policy not to provide contact information to campaign websites, sorry.]
Volume 409 (9/16/16)
Lost in all the circus acts the media has been blindly chasing, the Washington Post has quietly been doing a bang-up job digging into the namesake charity of Donald Trump. They’ve spent months and months combing through public records and phoning up hundreds of charities to discover the truths behind the Donald J. Trump Foundation scam. What they’ve found so far is pretty astounding, even if the entire rest of the media world has largely ignored it while chasing Trump’s shiny distractions and eruptions.
The Post — in the past week alone — has published story after story after story after story after story on the Trump Foundation’s shenanigans, and we can only hope some bright researcher puts these stories on Lester Holt’s desk so he can brush up on the facts before the first presidential debate.
We have to thank the Washington Post for committing these acts of real journalism in the midst of the presidential campaign. Nobody else has bothered to track this stuff down, and now the only thing left to do is to ask Trump to his face about what has been uncovered. This would require television “journalists” to do their homework and boldly confront Trump, though, so we’re not exactly holding our breath in anticipation of it happening.
Still, it gives us plenty of fodder for this week’s talking points. Our theme today comes from Hillary Clinton. We had to scratch our heads a bit about the whole “baskets” thing, but we did appreciate her calling out the Trump campaign’s deplorable appeal. So each of these is presented as a response that can be used any time the word “deplorable” pops up in a political conversation.
Where’s the $10,000,000, Donald?
Saying stuff is easy. Writing checks, not so easy, apparently.
“You know what’s deplorable? Telling the public you’ve given ‘tens of millions of dollars’ to charity when you haven’t even given your own namesake charity one thin dime in years. Or refusing to prove that you’ve given any money to charity at all. We’ve already seen Trump do this earlier in the campaign, when reporters began asking about the money Trump promised to donate to veterans — and none of it had actually been donated. Donald Trump loves saying he’ll donate to charity, but he rarely follows through with the actual money. And that’s pretty deplorable.”
Political slush fund
This is the only one that is actually getting some attention from the rest of the media. But it needs to be hammered as many times as possible.
“You know what’s deplorable? Using your own charity as a slush fund to make campaign donations to bribe an attorney general into not investigating your fraudulent university scam. That’s truly deplorable.”
Lying about donations
This one is just straight-up lying. Lying about donations given to charity. So far, I don’t think Trump has ever been asked about it by anyone.
“You know what else is deplorable? Telling the I.R.S. you’ve given money to charities when you didn’t. The Washington Post has been digging through the Trump charity’s financial statements, and has found multiple examples of false donation claims. Trump’s paperwork says he gave a certain amount to a certain charity, but when the Post calls them up and asks them to verify, the charities say they’ve never received a penny from either Trump’s foundation or Trump himself. That’s not only deplorable, it also could be tax fraud.”
This one has been picked up, not by journalists, but by late-night comedians. Hey, it’s a start, we suppose.
“You know what’s really deplorable? Paying $20,000 to a charity to buy a six-foot painting of yourself, that you then hang in the boardroom of one of your golf courses. That even reaches beyond deplorable into downright narcissism, folks.”
Trump tried to weasel his way out of leading the birther movement today. Without apologizing, and bizarrely blaming Clinton for it all.
“You know what’s deplorable? Spending years championing a conspiracy theory that America’s first black president wasn’t born in the United States, based on absolutely nothing. Then refusing for an entire year to dispute your birtherism on the campaign trail. And when you are finally forced to admit you were wrong, refusing to apologize for it and blaming someone else for your deplorable behavior.”
The KKK is deplorable, Mike
Trump’s running mate refuses to say mean things about a former wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. There’s a word for that, Mike.
“You know who is deplorable? David Duke, former Klan leader, is deplorable. It’s not even all that close a call, really, which is why it is astounding that Mike Pence couldn’t bring himself to say it. Not only is David Duke deplorable, but not clearly saying so is also pretty deplorable.”
Gas chamber jokes are…
Donald Trump Junior made a jaw-dropping reference to “gas chambers” the other day. Now he says he didn’t mean what everyone thinks he meant by it. Because, apparently, nobody in the Trump family ever apologizes for anything.
“You know what’s deplorable? Making jokes about the Holocaust. That is unbelievably deplorable. And despicable, just for good measure.”
Chris Weigant blogs at:
Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant
Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com
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Orange you glad you now have plans this weekend?
A new game called “Jrump,” which just debuted in the iOS and Android app stores, has players trying to help President Donald Jrump escape a ruined America and “make the galaxy great again.”
How do you do this? As the character says in the game’s trailer, you’re going to help him jump as high into sky as he can by bouncing “on [Jrump’s] favorite things in the world … walls!”
Essentially you draw magically appearing walls underneath a bouncing Jrump making him climb higher and higher away from America, while also trying to avoid obstacles such as scientists and Hillary Clinton.
Tom Bellamy, one of the game’s creators, told The Huffington Post that he and his team got the inspiration after hearing Trump go on, yet again, about how a wall would solve America’s problems. “We began to discuss how funny it would be to make a game focused around his love of walls and the apocalypse that might happen following his election,” said Bellamy.
Bellamy and his team created “Jrump” in 12 weeks of “very little sleep,” but are now excited to see if Trump will play it himself.
“We think Donald’s small, nimble hands would make him great at this game,” said Bellamy.
“Jrump” is bound to become your new favorite game as you find yourself wanting an absurd escapist fantasy while heading into the inevitable chaos of the election’s final stretch. Check out how the game looks below.
Here’s gameplay footage:
Unlockable outfits for Jrump:
Watch the trailer:
This election is special in that never in recent memory have two candidates been less favorable. “The lesser of two evils” is a phrase that cynical Americans toss around every election, but this time it seems particularly fitting.
Comedy writer Marc Singer asks the question on every voter’s mind: Which of these candidates is just slightly less evil than the other? Only Trump hands could measure the difference.
Alé de Basseville, the photographer whose July comments led to questions over whether Melania Trump lied about her immigration history, is now backing up the timeline the GOP nominee’s wife has offered regarding when she started working in the United States.
The former model again denied allegations on Wednesday that she worked in New York City in 1995, which would have been illegal if she did not receive work authorization until the following year. The allegations were prompted, in part, by the New York Post publishing photos from the now-defunct French magazine Max ? and de Basseville saying the photos had been taken in Manhattan in 1995 and published in January 1996.
But de Basseville told the New York Post on Wednesday that he misspoke.
“[T]he photo session actually took place in 1996 in Manhattan, and appeared in a 1997 issue of the magazine,” a spokeswoman for the newspaper said he told the publication. The Post has since updated its piece.
De Basseville’s clarification gives some credibility to Melania’s claims that her immigration record has been misreported. The issue over her early immigration status first erupted in August, when Politico reported the discrepancies between her story and other published reports. Critics quickly noted that her husband, Donald Trump, has been hypercritical of both unauthorized workers and even legal immigrants using H-1B visas, as his wife says she did.
Melania posted to Twitter a letter from her attorney, Michael J. Wildes, on Wednesday. Wildes writes that Melania “never worked in the United States in 1995 because she was was never in the United States in 1995” (emphasis his). She first entered the U.S. on Aug. 27, 1996, on a visitor visa and received a work visa on Oct. 18 of that year, he said.
The Trump campaign did not produce any documentation of Melania’s immigration record, and there are still discrepancies between the letter and past reports and remarks. A recent biography of Melania published by Slovenian journalists also says she came to the U.S. in 1995, according to Politico.
Melania has said she left the country “every few months” to get her visa stamped before she became a legal permanent resident ? which contradicts her latest statement that she received five one-year H-1B visas to work between 1996 and 2001.
For the past year and a half, the more responsible elements of the media have endeavored to tell a specific story about the presidential election, to make one thing clear above all others: Republican nominee Donald Trump has widely embraced all manner of bigots, making a home for them in his campaign.
This simple fact has been pounded home, over and over again, in print, online and on television. And although these types of stories are, conveniently, good for revenue ? they sell papers, grab eyeballs, drive traffic ? I’ve taken the media at their word that they sincerely believe attention must be paid to this development.
Should I have, do you think?
I’m starting to wonder, because over the weekend, all of this reportorial effort was echoed and confirmed by the other major-party candidate in the race, Hillary Clinton. At a fundraiser this past Friday, Clinton honored the work of countless reporters when she described “half” of Trump’s supporters as “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenopobic, Islamaphobic ? you name it,” and declared that these many types of bigots belong to a “basket of deplorables.”
Ah, vindication! Legitimacy! For the political journalists who’d been saying the same thing about Trump supporters for over a year, this must have been a sweet moment, yes? A time to celebrate, a time to rejoice that one of the world’s most visible and influential public figures was basically saying Yup, you were right?
Ha ha, not really. I mean, yes, there has been some of that. But by and large, the response from the media, upon hearing Clinton say this stuff that the media has been saying for months and months and months, was: What! How dare you!
It raises some uncomfortable questions: Is everything that’s been said and written about Trump’s supporters true? And if so, are only some people permitted to acknowledge this truth? Ultimately, this minor madness tells us less about Clinton and more about the political press, their love of banal cliches and their constant demand that Clinton reveal “authenticity,” despite the fact that they wouldn’t know the first thing about it.
There can be no mistake: The media has undertaken a massive effort to inform readers that Trump’s most public and passionate supporters are a massive cuddle-puddle of debased bigots. From the outset, we’ve been told that this is a darkness that Trump has “tapped into,” or “empowered,” or “unleashed.” He’s buoyed by a “spasm of hatred” that “no one should have been surprised by.” He “opened a sealed door against bigotry.” Many people have openly wondered, not unreasonably, whether the sickness at the heart of the Trump movement will wreak destruction upon the body politic even if the man himself loses.
The media has spared no expense to tell this story, time and time again. They’ve dispatched poets and deep thinkers, grizzled veteran authors and sad young literary men to cover this phenomenon. They’ve turned tweetstorms about the lumpen insanity of Trump’s rallies into star vehicles. They’ve been quick to point out the numerous instances in which Trump has signaled that he’s pretty much OK with this segment of his fan base. Data has been cited, numbers crunched.
The New York Times has certainly dropped the ball a few times during this campaign, but it’s also done yeoman’s work to expose as many readers as possible to the raw and uncensored voices of Trump rally attendees, along the way providing as much evidence of the “basket of deplorables” as anyone could want. From the Times:
New York Times reporters have spent over a year covering Donald J. Trump’s rallies, witnessing so many provocations and heated confrontations at them that the cumulative effect can be numbing: A sharp sting that quickly dulls from repetition.
But what struck us was the frequency with which some Trump supporters use coarse, vitriolic, even violent language — in the epithets they shout and chant, the signs they carry, the T-shirts they wear — a pattern not seen in connection with any other recent political candidate, in any party.
Not everyone attending a Trump rally behaves this way. In fact, many are polite and well mannered. But while protesters are often shouted down, crowds seldom express disapproval of the crude slogans and angry outbursts by Mr. Trump’s supporters. Indeed, these displays have become inextricably bound with the Trump show itself — as much as the snaking entrance lines and the calls to “build a wall” along the border with Mexico.
Last month, NBC reporter Katy Tur wrote an essay for Marie Claire about following Trump on the campaign trail. After its publication, there was only one part of it that anyone wanted to talk about ? the time Trump called out Tur by name at a rally in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, referring to Tur as a liar and urging the crowd to hurl invective at her. “The crowd,” she wrote, “feeding off Trump, seemed to turn on me like a large animal, angry, and unchained.” Tur continued:
It wasn’t until hours later, when Secret Service took the extraordinary step of walking me to my car, that the incident sank in.
The wave of insults, harassment, and threats, via various social-media feeds, hasn’t stopped since. Many of the attacks are unprintable.
“MAYBE A FEW JOURNALISTS DO NEED TO BE WHACKED,” tweeted someone with the handle GuyScott33, two weeks after Trump lashed out. “MAYBE THEN THEYD STOP BEI[N]G BIASED HACKS. KILL EM ALL STARTING W/ KATY TUR.”
Tur has received the sympathy and support of her media colleagues, which is as it should be. In light of this and plenty of other incidents, any member of the political press would have to make a serious, sustained effort not to see that Trump’s campaign has functioned as a kind of Bat-Signal for some very, very angry, hateful, dangerous types. So you’d think that when another presidential candidate essentially confirms all of this publicly, reporters would be just the smallest bit appreciative.
Not so much!
Heilemann on ABC says HRC's basket of deplorables comment is "close to the dictionary definition of bigoted"
— Betsy Woodruff (@woodruffbets) September 11, 2016
No. 1 rule of presidential politics. Okay to mock your opponent. Never a good idea to mock the electorate.
— Michael Barbaro (@mikiebarb) September 10, 2016
Era in which you flatter donors by saying grossly insulting things about large numbers of voters is long over. How didn’t Clinton know that?
— (((Megan McArdle))) (@asymmetricinfo) September 10, 2016
Now, it’s true that “empty platitudes grease the wheels of political reporting,” as Andrew Gelman wrote at The Washington Post last year. So it hasn’t really been a surprise these past few days to hear political journalists tsk-tsking about some set of “rules” as if that’s a real thing everyone knows about. We’ve also heard some cockeyed scolding about how if someone is a bigot, and you accurately describe them as such, it really means you’re the bigot. None of this makes any real sense, given the tone with which the media has previously covered the Trump groundswell ? a tone that’s ranged between concern and alarm for the better part of this election cycle.
“Is that how political reporting has to be done?” asks Gelman. “You have an opinion and then you say fact-free, reasonable-sounding things that line up with the opinion?” Basically, yes: The “gaffe” subroutine has been initiated, and it has to play itself out to the end.
In fact, the way in which many media figures responded to Clinton’s observation basically required them to first abandon much of what they have already documented about Trump’s supporters. Over at The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates notes: “It is easy enough to look into Clinton’s claim and verify it or falsify it. The numbers are all around us.” The only way to criticize Clinton for what she did ? which, again, was just to point out racism and go “hey, that right there, that’s racism”? is to ignore many months’ worth of good reporting and simply go, as Gelman says, fact-free.
Coates puts a finger on something important: If it were possible to make a factual case against Clinton, someone would make it. No one has done that, because the facts are on Clinton’s side. But that hasn’t stopped the fingers from wagging. Per Coates:
To understand how truly bizarre this method of opining is, consider the following: Had polling showed that relatively few Trump supporters believe black people are lazy and criminally-inclined, if only a tiny minority of Trump supporters believed that Muslims should be banned from the country, if birtherism carried no real weight among them, would journalists decline to point this out as they excoriated her? Of course not. But the case against Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” is a triumph of style over substance, of clamorous white grievance over knowable facts.
Here’s the real irony: One of the biggest demands to which the political press has constantly subjected Clinton is that she be “authentic.” That’s tricky for a candidate whose relationship with the media has grown toxic and mutually corrosive. Having written about this aspect of Clinton’s public life, I’ll acknowledge that in many ways, she bears some of the blame for this. Another current campaign story ? Clinton’s bout of pneumonia, and the abrupt way in which it’s been disclosed ? provides a good illustration of this problem. Clinton’s so over-concerned about the way the media would “play” this story that she can’t simply be forthright about what’s going on. Everyone loses.
But the wrongheadedness of the whole “authenticity” demand ? that’s all on the media. Last April, The New Republic’s Elspeth Reeve thoroughly examined the media’s “hunt for an authentic Hillary Clinton,” and how whenever they actually caught sight of it, they ended up being inflamed and outraged:
In Clinton’s most famous feminist moment ? “I suppose I could’ve stayed home and baked cookies and have teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession, which I entered before my husband was in public life” ? she was too authentic. History has mostly forgotten that Clinton was responding to Jerry Brown’s claim that her law firm benefitted from Arkansas state business, and not speaking about stay-at-home moms. But if you watch the video, there’s an edge to her voice, an obvious annoyance at what she considers a sexist attack.
How did this moment go over? The Boston Globe’s Joan Wickersham remembers it well:
She got slammed. The cookie-baking reference was seized upon as evidence not just that Hillary wasn’t a stay-at-home mom, but that she had contempt for women who had made this choice. (What she really had contempt for was the assumption that, for a politician’s wife, this was the only choice.) The press and the public chose to misunderstand her, and they made her atone.
This sounds familiar!
You would think that the political media, hearing a candidate loudly affirming what they’ve been telling readers for the better part of two years, would award that candidate some points for authenticity. Instead, we have people demanding that Clinton not mention this demonstrable truth, that she not speak of these Trump supporters in the same way the media has characterized them, that she not acknowledge the way Trump’s tapping into this dark well of hate represents a larger problem for the country she hopes to govern.
The overall message to Clinton that’s bubbling up in some quarters, in the wake of her “basket of deplorables” remarks, is this: No, no. We get to say that about Trump supporters. You’re not allowed. You are required to fake it. You have to be nice to these people.
And this is just as Reeve predicted: “To become more ‘authentic,’ Hillary must become even more fake.”
As Clinton takes heat for simply saying what journalists have been saying throughout the campaign, it should be noted that those who fit squarely inside the “basket of deplorables” are holding press conferences ? confirming their own existence, for anyone who needs proof. We’re here, they tell us. We’re as bad as you’ve heard. And by the way ? we enjoy the attention. What these people would really like ? indeed, what they see a Trump presidency as paving the way for ? is a white-supremacist nation-state of their own. And since there have been no reports of Pepe the Frog statues being erected in Antarctica, or on the moon, one concludes that the 1488 types probably want to set up their caliphate right here in the U.S. For the Trump campaign’s part, they’ve made sure this group got a wink on Twitter. Don’t worry, guys, we see you. Keep up the good work.
It wasn’t long ago that the media praised Clinton for speaking to these concerns. Now, I’m starting to wonder if the political press truly has the stamina to take on this “basket of deplorables” that they’ve spent a considerable portion of their recent lives investigating.
It’s a scary thing to see so many in the media suddenly lose their nerve, revealing that they lack the stomach for the confrontation they initiated. Freedom of the press is pretty great in theory, but it’s not worth much if you’re unwilling to do something courageous with it.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.
Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost Politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.